KARACHI: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said Saturday that people’s right to information (RTI) is nothing short of a fundamental right. The right to know lies at the heart of good governance, democratic values and the protection of human rights.
In a statement issued to mark International Right to Know Day, HRCP said while Pakistan had taken several important steps towards RTI in the shape of provincial and federal legislation, there was still room to ensure greater transparency and accountability, and this should apply in principle and practice to all public and state institutions, agencies and executive branches.
The Commission added: “The mechanisms by which citizens have the right to seek information on matters that affect everyday human rights, – the right to education, health, housing and employment, among others – must be simplified.”
The right to information cannot rely on the discretion of officials. Nor should it be curbed due to conflicting perceptions of what constitutes “the national interest”.
With press freedom increasingly under fire, HRCP calls on the state to remove unwarranted restrictions on citizens’ RTI and to fulfil its responsibilities under the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.